Truckers operating along the Northern Corridor circuit will now be fined for parking on undesignated areas after a multi-stakeholder team identified official Roadside Stations (RSS) facilities along the highway.
Northern Corridor Secretariat is set to table fines for official gazettement which will apply across all member countries after respective revenue authorities in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Burundi complete the accreditation and geo-fencing processes of the facilities.
"The Northern Corridor Secretariat had developed the RSS Regional Guidelines to ensure common designs for RSS are kept along the Corridor; as such, templates are available to be used by the Members States in developing their respective National Guidelines," read a statement from the secretariat.
The multi-stakeholders team working under the directive of the Northern Corridor Council of Ministers dropped ten stations in Kenya which did not meet the criteria for rest stations in an inspection conducted in September this year, and recommended 12 as the team continues inspection in other East African countries using the Northern Corridor.
The stations which will be created along the corridor member countries are meant to reduce road accidents and congestion along the circuit.
The Sh7 billion project aims to put up 67 roadside stations that will serve as rest points for truck drivers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Northern Corridor Transport and Transit Authority (NCTTA) executive secretary Omae Nyarandi said the agency identified 141 ideal sites for the stations but the 67 were earmarked as the most urgent.
The identified parking yards in Kenya with facilities similar to the Northern Corridor RSS designs that could be gazetted included Shell and Premium Energy Bonje, Maungu Lorry Park by Taita Taveta County government, Sparkle Centre and Darussalam Hotel and parking facility both in Mtito Andei, Delamere Holding Shop Point in Naivasha, Shell Salgaa at Salgaa and Uasin Gishu Lorry Park at Jua Kali.
Other proposed parking yards viable for upgrade to RSS but were at conception stage were the Kenya National Highway Authoritiy (KeNHA) land in Sultan Hamud, Shell and Premium Energy in Mai Mahiu, Mundika Trailer Park and Malaba Park in Busia and Kikopey yard between Nakuru and Gilgil.
The exercise came as a result of a directive by the Northern Corridor Council of Ministers in response to the lack of adequate facilities for rest, medical care, maintenance, parking, and sanitation along the corridor routes, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The absence of adequate facilities has seen high numbers of accidents within the Northern Corridor region due to fatigue and growing incidences of diseases such as HIV/AIDs, Ebola, and now Covid-19 spreading across borders.
In Kenya alone, about 3000 people lose their lives in road traffic crashes every year hurting Kenyan economy to an equivalent of 5.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of fatigue and the roadside rest station will play a big role in reducing the numbers.
Since its inception in 2014, the implementation of the Northern Corridor RSS program has been ongoing despite the slow pace. The momentum in developing the required regulatory frameworks for investing in RSS by the public sector has been declining, however, the private sector has invested in facilities similar to RSS; though uncoordinated.
"National Governments through their agencies should support Private Sector players and County Governments in the realization of the RSS projects by developing regulations on RSS, providing incentives to investors and providing funding for the projects," said Mr Nyarandi.
He added, "The Northern Corridor Member States are committed to develop Roadside Stations as an integral part of transport infrastructure services along the corridor and to develop and adopt policies and regulatory frameworks for promoting RSS in partnership with the private sector."
The survey also recommended a Task Force and Steering Committee comprising members from the Ministry of EAC and Regional Development, the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Land, Ministry of Health, Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA), Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Unit, National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Private Sector as well as County Government representatives to be revived to spearhead the process of developing the RSS legal framework.